BioSciences & Bio21 Institute
University of Melbourne
Professor Batterham completed a BSc(Hons) at LaTrobe University and a PhD in Genetics at Monash University. Prof Batterham’s group studies the interaction of chemical insecticides with pest and beneficial insects. Understanding this interaction will underpin the development of more effective and sustainable control strategies, with a reduced environmental impact. His group’s research focuses on two widely used classes of insecticides (the neonicotinoids and the spinosyns), both of which target nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the insect brain. These insecticides serve as excellent chemical probes that, when used in combination with nAChR customised mutants generated with CRISPR, allow a detailed analysis of the role of specific receptor subunits and neurons in behaviours including mating, locomotion and sleep. Insecticides, like other toxins, are metabolised and transported around the body. Combining the tools of genetics, toxicology and mass spectrometry, the genes responsible are being identified. His research can improve resistance management strategies for current generation insecticides and improve the design of insecticides of the future. One of the challenges in working on insect pests has been the lack of available genetic resources to facilitate research. Phil’s laboratory has played a leadership role in the sequencing of the genomes of two major agricultural pests – the sheep blowfly and the cotton bollworm.